A prominent Minnesota activist opposing the controversial Enbridge Energy Line 3 project has scored a legal victory against the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office, which has been involved in an ongoing dispute with pipeline protesters.
The matter involves a local property owned by Winona LaDuke, leader of Honor the Earth — an activist group whose "mission is to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues," per its website.
The organization has been a major part of the push to block completion of Line 3, a pipeline that would carry oil from Canada to Wisconsin.
Per the Star Tribune, LaDuke's property has been used by protesters as part of their ongoing effort against the pipeline.
The paper notes that LaDuke sued the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office for "repeatedly blocking a driveway" to the home, violating an easement — or property rights — that she was granted by the county after she purchased the home in 2018.
At issue was the fact that LaDuke had transferred ownership of the property to an activist organization, but on Friday, a Minnesota district court ruled that "it is not clear Ms. LaDuke's easement was ever extinguished."
According to the ruling, the deal she made with the Hubbard County Board did not restrict her ability to transfer the easement along with ownership of the property.
The court also ordered the sheriff to stop "barricading, obstructing or otherwise interfering with access to the property" — excepting cases where doing so is "pursuant to a valid warrant or for criminal conduct."
The restraining order awarded by the court is only temporary, however.
The ruling came just days after LaDuke was arrested in Aitkin County for protesting at a Line 3 replacement site. She was released on Thursday, Native News Online reported.
Protesters argue the new pipeline — which, once completed, will replace one constructed in 1961 — fuels the ever-worsening climate crisis, as it will transport 915,000 barrels of tar sands crude oil from Canada, through Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.
They also say it violates the rights of sovereign indigenous tribes, and that a leak or spill could be catastrophic for nearby wetlands and wild rice beds.
Earlier this month, between 80 and 100 gallons of drilling fluid spilled into the Willow River during construction of the pipeline, though Enbridge claims there was "no impact to aquifers ... nor downstream impacts."